Church hook in that Sean Taylor story

fb AAHP082 8x10 Sean Taylor Posters 01We rarely, rarely cover the work of religious publications here -- because that is not what is about. However, there are people out there from mainstream journalism who have moved on to work in religious and even denominational press offices. They tend, of course, to take major chunks of their news values and skills with them.

Thus, let me point GetReligion readers toward a story that offers some major insight into a religion ghost that we have been covering here in recent days -- the tragic death of Washington Redskins superstar Sean Taylor. For looks at what we have written, click here and here.

The bottom line: When people start claiming that a troubled person's life was turned around with help from God, it's good to know some of the details of what that change might look like. For example, was there a religious conversion? A public commitment? Was there a minister who was close to the person?

With those questions in mind, here is a large piece from the top of a report in Adventist Review, written by Mark A. Kellner (a longtime reader and friend of this weblog).

Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskins football player who was murdered during a middle-of-the-night burglary at his home on November 27, 2007, was known to the world as an aggressive athlete, once telling his pastor: "I just get paid to put them on the ground," with "them" being his opponents on the playing field.

Less known until his December 3, 2007 funeral in Miami, Florida, an event televised nationwide, was that Taylor, 24, was attending the Perrine Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami, and that Pastor David L. Peay, Sr., who once led the congregation there, had baptized the young athlete.

"Sean's mother and father are Seventh-day Adventists. Sean's grandparents are Adventist. The family is Adventist," Peay, now the pastor of Miami's Tabernacle Seventh-day Adventist Church, said in a telephone interview with Adventist Review two days after the funeral.

Taylor, shot by one of four intruders in his home as he attempted to protect his 18-month-old daughter and her mother, had, according to media reports, at one point in his life wandered somewhat from the Christian standards of his youth. Drafted by the Redskins in 2004 and in the third year of a seven-year, $18 million contract, his off-field reputation caused some to wonder. Indeed, a few initial comments in the media after his event -- comments widely criticized by Taylor's family and by Redskins fans -- erroneously suggested that his lifestyle contributed to the tragedy.

That was not the case. At the time of his murder, Sean Taylor was running, but with God's crowd at the Perrine Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami. Peay believes he was making a run towards heaven -- and away from his former ways.

This is public-relations material, in a way, but there is new information here, too.

Way down in this report in another glimpse at a news hook. Taylor's attempts to straighten out his life had led to a reconnection with this congregation.

In July 2007 Peay was back at the Perrine church for an evangelistic series, and Sean Taylor was in attendance, with his grandmother.

"When the appeal was made to give your life back to Christ, Sean raised his hand," Peay said. After that event, "Sean [was] coming -- nobody is making him come -- in [weekly to] worship on his own accord. As he comes out of the church, he hugs me, and whispered in my ear, 'I know what it looks like, but I'm not far.'"

It will be interesting to see if any of this material leaps into the mainstream.

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